Church Based After School Programs: SERVING TRAUMATIZED CHILDREN

The young couple came into the home excited to share their gifts with the boys. The foster parents called the boys into the living room to meet Dawn and Greg; one look at this young couple and the boys went wild running out of the room.

I immediately had a thought and leaned over to Ellen, the foster mom, and asked, “How did you first meet the boys? Was it just like this in the last foster home?” The light went on in Ellen’s eyes and she made the suggestion to her husband.

Antone, the foster dad, called the boys back and sat them on his lap, “These are our friends who wanted to meet you. I work with Dawn. You are not going anywhere; you are staying here with us.”

You could see the silent sigh as the boys relaxed.

As we serve traumatized kids, and if you are serving in an after school program you more than likely have a few who are, we must be continually aware of things we consider “normal” that may bring fear rushing into their little beings.

After an amazing Christmas Eve celebration at church, dinner with family and the opening of gifts it was time for bed. The boys didn’t want to go to bed, “Our gifts will leave.” They are still learning that they can trust in this home.

As you serve remember that even though a child may be 10 or 11 he still may be stuck emotionally in his first year of life where he never learned to trust. Kids who haven’t learned to trust need adults who are willing to walk through “hell” with them to bring them to a place of trust.

It is as though the child has built a brick wall of protection around himself. When you begin to get close, when the child thinks he just might be able to trust you, fear drives him to do something to make you angry, to get you to react.  You see, you are getting close to taking out a brick, or maybe you have removed several bricks and the wall is getting wobbly.

The child’s protection is that wall — he has to act out so the wall will stay standing. In his subconscious, he is now back in control, he is the one who made you angry — on purpose. If you reject him it won’t hurt as much because, in his faulty reasoning, he is the one who made you reject him.

This is why it is so important that those who serve traumatized children don’t ever give up. You must be willing to go through the same acting out over and over and over again until the child has proven to himself that it is safe to allow ALL the bricks to fall down.

PRAY, PRAY, PRAY —  for wisdom and strength to follow through on the wisdom the child’s Creator gives you.

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